The Battle of “Empty Stomachs”… Dual Citizens Struggling in Iran’s Prisons

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Updated Tuesday 1/24/2023 11:39 AM Abu Dhabi time

The Battle of “Empty Stomachs”… A final war that prisoners of dual nationality in Iran decided to fight in the hope of obtaining their freedom.

However, the struggle of the majority of these prisoners is shattering on the rock of the stubbornness of the Iranian authorities, which are not subject to such pressure, and exploit these prisoners of dual nationality to put pressure on their countries in order to serve their interests.

The last of these detainees, the American businessman of Iranian origin, “Siamak Namazi”, was forced to end his week-long hunger strike, as a result of his weight loss and deteriorating health, according to his family’s lawyer.

3 Americans are in prison

According to Iranian reports, Tehran is holding 3 Americans, environmental activist Murad Tahbaz, Iranian-American businessman Imad Sharqi, and Siamak Namazi, while his father Bagheri Namazi was released last year through mediation by the Sultanate of Oman.

The fate of the kidnapped American officer, Robert Levinson, remains unknown since his arrival on Kish Island in 2007.

In recent years, the Iranian government has arrested large numbers of foreign nationals and dual nationals on various charges, including espionage, collaborating with foreign security services, or working against the regime, and some of these have been exchanged with Iranian prisoners in other countries.

Last November, the Iranian judicial authorities admitted that they had arrested 40 foreign nationals during the wave of popular protests, including 7 citizens from France, while nationals from Germany, Belgium, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Spain were arrested.

Iran does not recognize dual citizenship in the trial of its citizens, and these trials are conducted in accordance with Iranian law.

Who is Siamak Namazi?

Siamak Namazi, an American businessman, has been imprisoned in Iran for longer than any other Iranian-American citizen, exceeding 7 years, and began a hunger strike on the seventh anniversary of his arrest.

Namazi’s lawyer, Jared Gesner, wrote on Monday, “Today is the last day of Siamak’s 7-day hunger strike. His blood pressure has dropped to the lowest normal level and he has lost about 4.5 kilograms of weight.”

A lawyer for Namazi’s family in the US says that despite his physical problems, the outpouring of support over the past week has given Siamak Namazi “a sense of hope and vitality in his fight to end his unjust imprisonment”.

According to Gesner, Namazi is grateful to everyone who shared his story and “pressured the President of the United States to bring the American hostages home.”

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A day after his hunger strike, a White House spokesperson announced that Biden had received Namazi’s letter and that “the US government continues its efforts to return him and other US citizens who have been unjustly detained in Iran.”

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Namazi was imprisoned in Iran under the administrations of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and now he wants the Biden administration to do more for his release.

Siamak Namazi complained to the Obama administration for not participating in the prisoner exchange deal between the United States and Iran. During this exchange, a number of Americans imprisoned in Iran were released on January 16, 2016.

Namazi was arrested during a business trip to Iran in 2015 and convicted of collaborating with “a government hostile to the Iranian regime”. He denied the charges against him.

hostages for political purposes

Iran watchers and the US government have repeatedly said that Tehran takes foreign nationals “hostage for political purposes” and have warned foreign nationals, especially dual nationals, of the dangers of traveling to Iran.

Biden administration officials have said they are working to free American citizens imprisoned in Iran and all citizens imprisoned in Iran should be released.

And last October, after the release of Bagher Namazi, an American citizen and former senior UN official who was arrested in Iran in 2016, the US State Department stated that the US government’s work in this regard is not over yet, and the government is committed to securing the freedom of all American citizens who have been unjustly detained in Iran and around the world.

In a related context, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said, on Monday, that the exchange of messages in the framework of the nuclear file, and negotiations are still continuing through various channels.

Kanaani announced Tehran’s readiness to conclude a prisoner exchange agreement with Washington, claiming that the US government linked the release of dual-national prisoners to the negotiations of the plan to revive the nuclear deal, but Tehran is ready to solve this issue in a separate way.

The Iranian newspaper “Etemad” considered that “the release of these American prisoners in Tehran is linked to the release of Iranian money withheld in South Korea, estimated at about $9 billion.”

On Monday, Foreign Minister Hossein Abdollahian said that the exchange of messages between Iran and the United States continues and that an agreement has been reached in one of the differences that may be announced soon.

The newspaper added: “Perhaps Siamak Namazi’s announcement to end his hunger strike is linked to what Abdullahian talked about.”

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